Last week in San Francisco took place an interesting event “The Future of Web Apps” gathering renown speakers to understand what was underpinning successful web businesses. A good friend who recently joined one of the most promising emerging Web 2.0 players, Netvibes, highlighted Mike Arrington’s pitch about “What’s next for web apps: building tomorrow’s Flickr”. Mike is known for his popular and influential TechCrunch blog contributions in the Bay Area, especially around Web 2.0 and start-ups.

I wanted to share with you some of his thoughts as a way for us to nurture our Marketing 2.0 brainstorming. This is pretty direct, here is the way he classifies it:

  • Winners: writely, grouper, skype, newroo, flickr, weblogs, myspace, bloglines, userplane, ksolo, blogger,
  • Very good bets: digg, facebook, youtube, photobucket, zoho, stumbleupon, popsugar, plentyoffish, netvibes
  • Ones to watch: jobster, riya, zillow, flock, sharpcast, rocketbookm, 1-800-FREE411, odesk, secondlife, wordpress
  • What were they thinking: inform, gather, pubsub, browzar, jigsaw, squidoo

Then about his personal forecast:

  • Avoid: Social networking, social bookmarking, video, photos, blogging/podcasting platforms, portal/homepages, feed readers
  • Big potential: Platforms, desktop apps (ported to online), office efficiency, cloud storage, identity, developer tools, market destruction (such as 1-800-FREE411), enterprise

And finally, winners and losers behaviors:

Passion for what they are doing Lifestyle/ego entrepreneurs
Do something extraordinary Forget about scaling
Remove serious friction Spent too much money
Great founder dynamics Poor founder, team choices
Never raise big money or raise it after you have won Raised too much money
Perfect revenue model is not required Over business-planned
Launched with post on TechCrunch Launched with post on TechCrunch

Check out on CenterNetworks if you want to listen to some of his remarks, MP3 files are posted there.

What strikes me here is that Marketing is not mentioned at all and that all these successful companies didn’t use classical marketing techniques to get traction and awareness. Instead, they heavily used viral marketing and positive buzz to attract millions of users. The big question to a lot of them, the one that have not been acquired by Google and Yahoo yet ;-), is how to move from volume users to monetization. Advertising sponsored business models may not be suitable for all, then who’s ready to pay for additional web services?

Stay tuned.


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